A spinal cord stimulator is a device that your doctor implants under your skin to manage chronic pain. It can be a good option for people who haven’t found adequate pain relief with conservative treatment, and if you’re thinking about getting one, you’re in the right place.
Studies show that spinal cord stimulators offer significant, long-term pain relief for up to 80% of patients. However, it’s important to be prepared for the procedure and recovery period before getting one yourself.
Eric Fanaee, MD, and our team specialize in spinal cord stimulators for chronic pain relief in Bethpage, Smithtown, and West Islip, New York. Here’s what you need to know about how to prepare for a spinal cord stimulator.
Understand the procedure
Spinal cord stimulators work by emitting electrical signals that interfere with pain signals in your spine. The goal is to stop pain signals from reaching your brain, so you feel less pain in your daily life.
The first step in preparing for a spinal cord stimulator is taking time to understand the procedure and to get all of your questions answered. Dr. Fanaee explains the details of the procedure to you, including the risks and benefits. Be sure to ask about the recovery period and what you can expect after the procedure.
Prepare for pre-procedure testing
Before your spinal cord stimulator implantation procedure, you need to undergo some testing to determine if the treatment is right for you. Dr. Fanaee may recommend imaging tests — like X-rays or MRI scans — and nerve conduction tests to assess your pain.
If you’re a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator, you get a trial stimulator before he implants the permanent one. Dr. Fanaee places temporary leads, attached to an external stimulator device, that you wear for about a week to find out if the treatment is effective for you.
In general, spinal cord stimulators are considered successful if they reduce pain by 50% or more.
Arrange for transportation
We administer general anesthesia during your spinal cord stimulator implant procedure, so you won’t be able to drive yourself home afterward.
Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, ask a friend or family member to drive you to and from the surgery center. If possible, ask someone to stay with you for the first few days of your recovery, too.
Think about post-procedure recovery
After your procedure, you need to take some time to recover. You might experience pain at the site of your incision, but it should dissipate within a few days. Be sure to follow our instructions for caring for your incision site, and take any pain medication as prescribed.
Plan to take some time off work to recover. Before the procedure, stock up on supplies you’ll need during recovery, like comfortable clothing, pillows, and blankets, as well as any medications or medical supplies we recommend.
Plan for physical therapy
Depending on your condition, Dr. Fanaee may recommend physical therapy after getting a spinal cord stimulator. Physical therapy helps you regain strength and mobility, which can help reduce pain, too. Be sure to follow our instructions for physical therapy and follow-up appointments to ensure you heal as quickly as possible.
Create a support system
Having a support system in place can be helpful during recovery. Reach out to friends and family members who can offer emotional support or help with tasks like cooking and cleaning. Remember that Dr. Fanaee and our team are available to answer your questions and help you adjust to life with a spinal cord stimulator.
Preparing for a spinal cord stimulator procedure requires some careful planning and preparation, but it could be a long-lasting solution for your chronic nerve pain. Book an appointment with Dr. Fanaee online or call us at 631-265-2020 to learn more.